The Way It Is Now by Garry Disher [9/10]

Fresh from the triumph of his Hirsch trilogy set in the remote South Australian countryside, Garry Disher returns to his beloved Mornington Peninsula, a tongue of land between bay and ocean near Melbourne, in ”The Way It Is Now.” Policeman Charlie Deravin, newly parted from his wife and on enforced disciplinary leave from the sex-crimes unit, returns home to a beach shack. Like many crime fiction heroes, he is a mess, with one burden being the overhang from the never-solved disappearance of his mother two decades earlier. Surfing, just existing, this loose spirit idly digs into the past, until the day bodies turn up and the past catches up. Stylistically, The Way It Is Now feels nothing like the low-key lyricism of the South Australian series, it is much more muscular and adventurous, but a commonality is a wonderful immersion in the mystery’s locale, this time a mix of real Mornington Peninsula towns and suburbs, and some fictional ones. You can feel the sand, smell the salt. As ever, Disher’s control of the highly intriguing plot is masterful, never revealing too much, always keeping the reader on her toes. As ever, once begun, the book demands to be completed. One of the best global crime fiction novels of 2021, The Way It Is Now cements Disher’s crown as the best Australian mystery writer, bar none.

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